Life on a boat can get hectic. While a cruise might seem relaxing – picture gently swaying on the Caribbean sea as you enjoy astounding panoramic views while lounging in your room balcony – there is so much to do onboard that after a while the body demands some serious rest and relaxation.
Just to be clear, that’s rest and relaxation from the rest and relaxation you’ve supposedly been having all along.
Grand Turk, a part of the Turks and Caicos Islands, provides exactly that. It also gets the award for having the best beach during our entire trip through the Caribbean.
One reason behind this is because the “complex” where we docked and the adjoining beach, with its beautiful soft sand, is owned and maintained by the shipping company. Thus, a stop here comes with free beach access, lounge chairs, and an opportunity to do absolutely nothing for a while.
Now, I love the beach!
It’s just a fantastic place to be. The water, the sand, the waves, the people, the heat… Wait a minute!
Remember when I said I love the beach (it’s like two sentences above, so if you did forget, might I suggest a check-up with the doctor)? You might also like to know that I cannot stand the heat.
Yes! I do come from India.
Yes! We have scorching and humid summers here.
Yes! I break out in a rather irritating, scratchy, skin reddening rash if I stay in direct sun for more than a few minutes.
So, I typically enjoy beach life before the sun comes up and after it sets. In-between, since sometimes the only chance I get is during the day, I have to wear a shirt.
It’s actually to stop everyone else from being jealous of my abs (read beer belly), but we will go with the heat excuse for now. Otherwise, I stay in the shade, and in all honesty, I do feel a bit out of place, but life is full of challenges, and I make do with what I’ve got.
Now, back to the cruise, and Grand Turk is a stop where the ship practically empties out. Many of the staff get time off at the port, and they all use it to their best advantage.
It’s always sweet to come across the still smiling staff in everyday clothes for a change rather than in their work uniforms. And because there are some free WiFi hot-spots in the complex, everyone is busy catching up with the rest of the world.
However, coming back to the beach for a minute, I’ve heard many people talk about the perfect beach being secluded and empty from the hustle and bustle of people. That might be fun sometimes (maybe on your honeymoon or a romantic getaway), but I have always enjoyed a beach when it is crowded.
The whole point of a beach vacation is to just lie down and watch the world pass by as you get baked. A busy beach is a great place to watch people – not being a pervert here – from all walks of life go about their business in as little clothes as possible.
The beach is an entirely different experience when you notice the simplicity of life being reflected on a stretch of sand.
Children splashing and building sandcastles, a husband pulling his non-swimming wife into the water or visa versa, beach sports ranging from snorkelling to jet-skiing, and lastly, burying your passed-out-friend in the sand and giving them body parts of the opposite sex. It’s all fair game when you’re on the beach.
The beach at Grand Turk was brimming with all of the above. Clean and with water levels ranging from around 2-6 feet near the end, made the beach perfect for the family, where even the younger kids could venture out on their own.
I was first introduced to the mellow island music of Jimmy Buffett by an American friend when I studied in Germany. His lyrics and the calming high – wink-wink – that his music still brings about, especially some of the earlier songs, is perfect for a location like Grand Turk. It’s not surprising then to find Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Grand Turk.
A crystal clear pool, a Flowrider, signboards all around to bring a smile on your face, food and drinks to pass away the time sun-bathing, and some of Buffet’s most popular songs – Cheeseburger in Paradise, Son of a Son of a Sailor, Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit, Changes in latitudes… – playing in the background; the atmosphere is that of a beach club and let’s face it, this is what the good life is all about.
There’s a lot to shop as well, at the Carnival Cruise Center, from souvenirs to island arts and crafts.
Here’s a little tip though, all the employees of the cruise get an employee discount at this location, and since many disembark, if you can find someone from the ship (wasn’t really hard for us since most people working on it were Indian), you can request them to help you get that discount.
On this particular stop, we decided to make the most of the free (doesn’t include food, drinks, or your shopping) hospitality by the cruise company, on land for a change.
It was a day packed with laidback relaxing near the pool with the occasional dips in the water. And lots of Landshark beer.
However, others went about exploring the island, taking a ride on a scooter to enjoy the nearby beaches, which are equally pretty and comparatively less crowded.
Grand Turk is a flat island and at the time was recovering from total devastation a few years back by a hurricane. As a result, the inflow of tourists and investment by the cruise companies has been extremely well received and appreciated.
In the end, the sight of the bluest water we came across in the Caribbean and the euphonious music at Margaritaville amplified by the “unhealthy” and not recommended – unless you are on a cruise – combination of chilled beer and the sun was magical.
The pristine white beach full of vigour, further made our stop at Grand Turk genuinely magnificent and memorable.